Local experts tout benefits of plant-based nutrition

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter



If you go

• What: “Plant-Based Nutrition for Optimal New Year’s Results” presentation by Alison Ozgur, registered dietician, and Derrick deLay, certified personal trainer.

• When: 7:30-9 p.m. Jan. 26.

• Where: Northwest Personal Training, 1011 Broadway, Vancouver.

• Cost: Free, but call to reserve a spot.

• Information: 360-574-7292.

If you want to gain fitness and lose weight, think beyond protein shakes and supplements.

Registered dietician Alison Ozgur and certified personal trainer Derrick deLay encourage their clients to eat whole foods, preferably plants.

They are writing a book together titled “Beyond Good” and they will share their philosophy in a presentation at Northwest Personal Training on Jan. 26.

They are inspired by Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study,” a book that argues a plant-based diet can prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The gist of the book is captured in a new documentary, “Forks over Knives,” playing at Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10 in Portland through Thursday.

In working on their book, deLay and Ozgur are looking for people willing to be case studies. DeLay, who adheres to a vegan diet, will work with people willing to try completely giving up animal products. Ozgur will work with those willing to try her approach — a mostly plant-based diet with just a little dairy or fish.

“Our clients ask, ‘What about the protein?’” she said. “But you don’t need a lot of protein, especially in the form of animal protein. With that comes a lot of bad stuff.”

They have both seen clients suffer on the Atkins diet, which emphasizes meat and restricts carbohydrates. Those who lost weight simply dropped water, not fat, and had little energy for their workouts, deLay said.

Ozgur and deLay encourage people to change their approach.

“You didn’t put it on overnight, and it’s not going to come off overnight,” Ozgur said. “We’re talking about not losing weight but gaining health.”

Here are some of Ozgur and deLay’s tips to achieve that goal:

• Try the 90-percent rule.

Ozgur recommends shooting for 90 percent of the food you consume to be plant foods. Cut animal products to one serving a day — 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 ounce of cheese or 3 ounces of fish. As for treats, reserve them for special occasions. When you do indulge, it’s best to make your treats yourself so you know what’s in them. Ozgur does, however, give the green light to 1 ounce of dark chocolate, which is packed with antioxidants, a day.

• Think in terms of calorie density.

A pound of romaine has 100 calories, a pound of whole grains has about 500 calories, a pound of meat has between 700 and 1,000 calories, and a pound of nuts has 3,000 calories. Choosing foods with 500 to 600 calories a pound or less will lead to weight loss, deLay said. That also means avoiding processed foods, which are very calorie dense, he said.

• Accentuate the positive.

Don’t fixate on what you can’t have, deLay said. “Instead of feeling like you’re going on a diet and depriving yourself, focus on the fact that you’re eating healthy, wonderful foods. Focus on the positive aspect,” he said.

• Think long term.

“Don’t pick a diet you don’t intend to stay on forever,” Ozgur said. “We’re Americans and we like a quick fix. But you have to retrain your thinking: This is a lifestyle change.”

Black Bean Burgers

Makes 4-6 patties.

Alison Ozgur, a registered dietitian, and Derrick deLay, a certified personal trainer, both of Northwest Personal Training, emphasize that eating a plant-based diet can be enjoyable. Here is a recipe for healthful, vegan black bean burgers from Derrick deLay’s Web site, http://www.vibrantvegan.com.

If you are in the mood for something hearty and delicious, these black bean burgers will satisfy. They are great served with salsa and a fresh green salad.

½ cup flour

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 small hot or jalapeño pepper, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ medium red pepper, diced

2 cups cooked or canned black beans, mashed

½ cup corn niblets

½ cup bread crumbs

¼ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (optional)

On a small plate, set aside flour for coating. In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion, garlic, oregano and hot pepper in oil on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent. Add the peppers and sauté another 2 minutes, until pepper is tender. Set aside. In a large bowl, mash the black beans with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the vegetables (including the corn), bread crumbs, cumin, salt, chili powder, and parsley. Mix well. Divide and shape into 5 or 6 patties. Lay down each patty in flour, coating on each side. Cook in a lightly oiled frying pan on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until browned on both sides.